These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In North Carolina


We analyzed over 112 places in North Carolina to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

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When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.

But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of North Carolina.

But where exactly in North Carolina? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.

To that end, we have tried to identify the places in North Carolina that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.

What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Mount Holly don’t mind us spreading the word.

Here are our top ten places in the Tar Heel State to retire:

  1. Mount Holly (Photos)
  2. Cary (Photos)
  3. Kannapolis (Photos)
  4. Apex (Photos)
  5. Morrisville (Photos)
  6. Stallings
  7. Burlington
  8. Holly Springs
  9. Cornelius (Photos)
  10. Elon

Why did Mount Holly take the top spot? And where are Greensboro and Durham?

Read on to see see all the golden parachute level details. Or check out the purely worst and best places to live in North Carolina.

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How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Tar Heel State

To create our list of the best places in North Carolina to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Tar Heel State with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.

This left us with 111 places from across the state.

For these 111, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (As measured by population density)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 111, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Mount Holly, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.

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1. Mount Holly

Mount Holly, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 14,058
Cost Of Living: 91
Distance to Closest Airport: 7 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,778
Mount Holly ranked 1st overall thanks to it’s 59th place rank for cost of living and it’s 14th place safety rank.

2. Cary

Cary, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 155,822
Cost Of Living: 118
Distance to Closest Airport: 6 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,160
Cary ranked 2nd overall thanks to it’s 110th place rank for cost of living and it’s 7th place safety rank.

3. Kannapolis

Kannapolis, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 45,685
Cost Of Living: 85
Distance to Closest Airport: 24 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,280
Kannapolis ranked 3rd overall thanks to it’s 19th place rank for cost of living and it’s 24th place safety rank.

4. Apex

Apex, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 43,893
Cost Of Living: 113
Distance to Closest Airport: 11 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,116
Apex ranked 4th overall thanks to it’s 107th place rank for cost of living and it’s 6th place safety rank.

5. Morrisville

Morrisville, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 22,600
Cost Of Living: 110
Distance to Closest Airport: 4 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,119
Morrisville ranked 5th overall thanks to it’s 102nd place rank for cost of living and it’s 20th place safety rank.

6. Stallings


Population: 14,759
Cost Of Living: 102
Distance to Closest Airport: 17 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,382
Stallings ranked 6th overall thanks to it’s 87th place rank for cost of living and it’s 8th place safety rank.

7. Burlington

Burlington, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 52,570
Cost Of Living: 84
Distance to Closest Airport: 40 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,595
Burlington ranked 7th overall thanks to it’s 14th place rank for cost of living and it’s 63rd place safety rank.

8. Holly Springs

Holly Springs, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 30,126
Cost Of Living: 107
Distance to Closest Airport: 15 miles
Crime Per 100k: 955
Holly Springs ranked 8th overall thanks to it’s 97th place rank for cost of living and it’s 2nd place safety rank.

9. Cornelius

Cornelius, North Carolina

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 27,426
Cost Of Living: 110
Distance to Closest Airport: 18 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,527
Cornelius ranked 9th overall thanks to it’s 102nd place rank for cost of living and it’s 9th place safety rank.

10. Elon


Population: 9,781
Cost Of Living: 99
Distance to Closest Airport: 43 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,053
Elon ranked 10th overall thanks to it’s 82nd place rank for cost of living and it’s 4th place safety rank.

Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…

So there you have it, the best place to retire in North Carolina goes to Mount Holly.

If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  • Washington
  • Mount Airy
  • Kill Devil Hills

For more North Carolina reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In North Carolina

City Rank Population Cost Of Living Distane To Airport Crimes per 100k
Mount Holly 1 14,058 91 7 1,778
Cary 2 155,822 118 6 1,160
Kannapolis 3 45,685 85 24 2,280
Apex 4 43,893 113 11 1,116
Morrisville 5 22,600 110 4 2,119
Stallings 6 14,759 102 17 1,382
Burlington 7 52,570 84 40 4,595
Holly Springs 8 30,126 107 15 955
Cornelius 9 27,426 110 18 1,527
Elon 10 9,781 99 43 1,053
Knightdale 11 13,787 93 17 3,162
Gibsonville 12 6,759 91 44 1,731
Carrboro 13 20,867 110 17 2,515
Chapel Hill 14 59,005 128 14 2,428
Gastonia 15 73,877 85 13 5,647
Davidson 16 12,076 116 19 1,101
Wake Forest 17 36,472 112 16 2,177
Matthews 18 30,054 106 14 2,648
Thomasville 19 27,178 80 66 4,268
Graham 20 14,506 86 35 4,432
Durham 21 251,761 98 9 5,131
Wilmington 22 113,724 100 4 5,221
High Point 23 108,982 86 67 4,008
Garner 24 27,625 95 15 4,575
Kings Mountain 25 11,053 84 23 2,849
Fuquay-Varina 26 22,722 99 19 3,129
Cherryville 27 5,901 85 27 3,575
Greensboro 28 282,177 88 60 4,077
Concord 29 85,753 93 21 2,920
Carolina Beach 30 6,048 110 15 4,513
Wendell 31 6,298 91 22 2,222
Archdale 32 11,483 87 65 2,342
Mooresville 33 35,387 101 26 3,142
Selma 34 6,325 81 36 5,486
Shelby 35 20,259 81 34 4,254
Newton 36 12,999 82 34 3,838
Lexington 37 19,089 80 55 3,818
Huntersville 38 51,701 109 13 2,056
Butner 39 7,692 87 17 2,626
Eden 40 15,434 80 68 3,615
Winterville 41 9,484 93 81 1,824
Clayton 42 18,553 97 24 2,376
Hickory 43 40,274 86 42 5,097
Wilson 44 49,558 91 48 4,370
Boone 45 18,241 104 80 2,094
Belmont 46 10,494 92 5 4,211
Greenville 47 89,745 87 81 4,627
Oxford 48 8,707 86 32 7,626
Waxhaw 49 12,398 98 22 1,032
Dunn 50 9,762 85 40 7,826
King 51 6,777 87 52 3,423
Havelock 52 20,630 90 72 1,934
Rocky Mount 53 56,175 82 55 5,833
Leland 54 17,023 104 7 2,050
Tarboro 55 11,206 80 68 3,944
Roxboro 56 8,329 87 36 5,474
Statesville 57 25,731 84 39 5,095
Sanford 58 29,048 90 34 3,762
Mint Hill 59 25,024 104 16 2,181
Mebane 60 13,592 96 30 4,627
Lincolnton 61 10,593 92 24 4,984
Marion 62 7,873 82 67 8,205
Henderson 63 15,258 90 37 10,899
Winston-Salem 64 238,474 86 72 6,118
Wilson 65 49,558 91 77 4,370
Asheboro 66 25,978 86 58 6,266
Hamlet 67 6,500 85 73 5,200
Mocksville 68 5,140 81 51 4,980
Morganton 69 16,717 86 55 4,115
Salisbury 70 33,674 92 40 5,844
Pineville 71 8,244 91 8 12,445
King 72 6,777 87 80 3,423
Fayetteville 73 203,670 90 55 5,677
Hendersonville 74 13,548 95 85 4,428
Monroe 75 34,212 90 26 5,685
Reidsville 76 14,107 81 58 5,557
King 77 6,777 87 87 3,423
Lenoir 78 17,956 86 57 4,600
Hope Mills 79 16,189 94 63 6,677
Conover 80 8,263 86 37 5,409
Albemarle 81 15,968 86 43 5,485
Boiling Spring Lakes 82 5,703 106 18 2,717
Kernersville 83 23,736 92 74 4,204
Williamston 84 5,534 84 86 8,637
Brevard 85 7,710 99 100 3,086
Black Mountain 86 8,168 103 82 1,726
Pinehurst 87 15,522 112 60 740
Roanoke Rapids 88 15,454 88 74 7,240
Waynesville 89 9,788 87 117 3,688
Wadesboro 90 5,577 84 52 8,212
Rockingham 91 9,289 86 69 10,270
Goldsboro 92 35,924 91 57 7,062
Smithfield 93 11,746 89 34 6,444
Kinston 94 21,393 86 71 8,488
New Bern 95 30,075 88 73 4,618
Fletcher 96 7,547 106 89 1,682
Laurinburg 97 15,601 87 81 6,582
Lumberton 98 21,646 87 65 15,596
Clinton 99 8,799 91 55 5,705
Spring Lake 100 13,258 88 49 5,234
Hillsborough 101 6,428 107 22 6,860
Asheville 102 87,531 102 93 5,458
Whiteville 103 5,535 87 45 14,525
Oak Island 104 7,359 107 27 4,497
Woodfin 105 6,241 100 97 1,762
Aberdeen 106 7,107 93 62 5,065
Monroe 107 34,212 90 96 5,685
Southern Pines 108 13,258 110 58 4,495
Kill Devil Hills 109 6,948 113 67 5,541
Mount Airy 110 10,364 92 91 5,200
Washington 111 9,862 96 99 7,564

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